Premier Smith on hand to launch helium purification facility north of Brooks, Alta.

Dec 16, 2023 – Via CTV

A first-of-its-kind helium purification facility was officially launched Saturday.

Premier Danielle Smith was among the dignitaries on hand to launch the Steveville Helium Purification Facility, which owners Royal Helium Ltd say was “designed, engineered and built by Albertans in Alberta.”

The plant is located in Princess, Alta. about 20 minutes drive north of Brooks, which is Smith’s riding.

“It’s clear that Royal Helium is a tremendous gain for the whole the province and it’s really the start of a new era for Alberta,” Smith said.

While most people tend to think of helium as somethng that helps balloons escape from childrens’ hands into the sky at birthday parties, it has other uses. It’s used as a coolant in MRI machines, semiconductor manufacturing, and electric vehicles.

Truth be told, with helium, the sky isn’t even the limit: space flights rely on it.

Helium Developers of Canada says the country has the fifth-largest reserve of the natural resource.

“We’re just at the early stages of what appears to be a very significant resource,” said Richard Dunn, the executive director of the Helium Developers Association of Canada.

The Royal Helium facility is the first helium purification facility of its size in North America, and part of that leads to a very low carbon footprint…..

Read the full article here.

Helium startups on the Prairies hope to keep domestic supplies afloat

Dec 11, 2023 – Via CBC

Tight supply, high prices have prompted a rush of activity in Alberta, Saskatchewan

To the untrained eye, the collection of pipes and structures rising out of the prairie 200 kilometres east of Calgary looks like any other natural gas processing plant in southern Alberta. 

But the Steveville plant isn’t focused on extracting hydrocarbons. Instead, the prize it’s seeking deep underground is helium. 

The element is most commonly associated with party balloons, but it has myriad other applications ranging from its use in MRI machines to semiconductors to the aerospace industry. 

Helium supply has tightened and prices have climbed in recent years, owing in part to the gradual depletion of the U.S. strategic helium reserve along with a cascading series of four global helium shortages since 2006…..

Read the full article here.

‘Unity’ Of New Helium Developers Association To Open ‘A Lot Of Doors’

Calgary, October 23, 2023 – Via Daily Oil Bulletin

Balanced tax treatment is one of the areas a new association dedicated to helium developers is pursuing through regulatory advocacy.

The Helium Developers Association of Canada (HeDAC) was established earlier this autumn, with former long-time Encana Corporation executive Richard Dunn tapped as executive director.

Currently with five members, the group represents companies that explore, develop and produce helium in Western Canada.

Government and regulators are “a lot more receptive when it’s an industry group than an individual company coming forward, so there is not an individual company gaining an advantage or anything like that,” Chris Bakker, CEO of Avanti Helium Corp., told the DOB.

Avanti is a member company of HeDAC, and Bakker serves as a HeDAC co-chair. He worked for Encana previously, as well. 

“This is an industry approach,” he said of the new association. “That sort of unity opens a lot of doors and things are well received on the government front.”

Fellow co-chair Ed Bereznicki agreed. He’s president and CEO of First Helium Inc., another member company. His career expertise includes gas pipelines and capital markets.

“It started with realizing we had some common goals as it related both provincially and federally with respect to regulatory and fiscal (matters),” he said. “We have been doing a tremendous amount of work … furthering the group’s causes, if you will, and interests.”

One of those causes relates to taxation.

“Spending on helium exploration and development sourced from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) does not receive equal treatment of tax measures provided other Canadian mineral developers, namely the Canadian Exploration Expense (CEE) or the Canadian Development Expense (CDE),” HeDAC wrote in a submission to the federal government for pre-budget consultations in advance of the 2024 federal budget.

This is related to a clause in the Income Tax Act that the groups says inadvertently precludes minerals sourced from sedimentary deposits in Canada (including the WCSB) from receiving CEE and CDE deduction treatment.

“Of the 31 critical minerals in Canada, only one, helium, doesn’t receive this standard tax treatment,” Dunn told the DOB.

“It is a problem. It affects project economics, it affects the certainty in terms of handling of tax deductions….”

It also restricts the ability for junior explorers to access at-risk financing, he added.

On this, Bakker added: “We are kind of competing for the same dollars for exploration, in some senses … and we don’t feel the playing field is level at this point. We are trying to raise awareness of that at the federal level.”

At the provincial level, Saskatchewan has had a “head start” on helium, noted Bakker. Until recently, it has not received the same sort of focus in Alberta, leading to some things that need to be caught up on.

“We are primarily working in the southern, southeastern part of Alberta,” he added. “There has not been a lot of oil and gas activity and there has been some, I’d say, challenges on surface land access down there that we are working through.

“It is just more reflective of the fact that we are an early-stage deep exploration game, and what typically has happened in southeast Alberta was a shallow gas, fairly rapid cycle history down there. The regulation side in place down there does not necessarily fit our business today.”

With that said, Bakker called the Alberta government receptive and very good to work with. He pointed to positives in the mandate letter to Alberta’s Energy and Minerals Minister Brian Jean.

One of the tasks detailed in the letter was: Developing and improving regulatory regimes to incentivize investment in hydrogen, ammonia, helium, lithium, liquefied natural gas, small modular reactor, geothermal and mineral development in the province.

“We really appreciate the engagement there,” said Bakker.

Canada’s helium resources are estimated to be the fifth largest in the world, according to the Saskatchewan government.

Helium is commonly used in MRIs and electronics.

Bereznicki said helium will potentially play a big role in the energy transition, citing its use as a cooling mechanism for small modular reactors.

“The other avenue being tested is a replacement gas within heat pumps, which are becoming very topical in Canada,” he added. 

Dunn supported this point.

“It fits with government priorities in growing a diversified, green economy,” he said.

“A lot of people think nuclear is going to be one of the key methods of lowering the carbon footprint on the electricity system. The latest generation small modular reactor going in at Chalk River in Ontario is designed around helium cooling. (There’s) a lower carbon opportunity there.”

Other member companies include Global Helium Corp.Royal Helium Ltd. and Thor Helium.

Read the original article here.

Royal Helium starts-up helium purification facility in Alberta‘Unity’ Of New Helium Developers Association To Open ‘A Lot Of Doors’

October 13, 2023 Via Gasworld

Royal Helium has announced the successful start-up of its Steveville helium purification facility in Alberta.

The plant has been engineered to process 15,000 mcf/day of raw gas fed by two of Royal Helium’s helium wells. With this, the plant has an output capacity of around 22,000 mcf of 99.9999% helium per year.

Helium produced by the plant will meet the three-year purchase agreement that Royal Helium has made with two offtake partner agreements in the North American aerospace and space launch industries.

It is believed the the helium supplied under the contacts will have an average price of $538 per mcf. The facility at Steveville is said to have an ultra-low operating cost due to it being self-powered by fuel gas co-produced from the two helium wells.

Andrew Davidson, President and CEO of Royal Helium described the plant start-up as a “pivotal moment”.

He added, “Following a successful start-up, Royal Helium will begin ramping up towards full commercial production, making us the first publicly listed helium producer operating in Canada.”

The Steveville plant will also materially benefit from carbon credits, generated under the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction System in Alberta. As these carbon credits are monetised, it will have the ability to provide Royal shareholders with a material additional cash flow stream.

News of the start-up comes hot on the heels of the Helium Developer Association of Canada being formed, of which Royal Helium is a member. The association hopes to address the growing demand for a long-term, secure helium supply chain.

Other member companies of the Helium Developers Association of Canada include Avanti Helium, First Helium, Global Helium, and Thor Resources.

https://www.gasworld.com/story/royal-helium-starts-up-helium-purification-facility-in-alberta/2128968.article/

Canadian helium developers establish national association to address growing demand for critical helium supply

Calgary, October 12, 2023 – Canadian helium companies have announced the establishment of the Helium Developers Association of Canada to address growing demand for a long-term, secure supply of helium critical to Canada’s medical, scientific research, high-tech and industrial sectors.

The Helium Developers Association of Canada (HeDAC) represents companies looking to explore, develop and produce helium in Western Canada. Its mandate is to create public awareness and align industry and governments in advancing much-needed domestic helium supply.

“Global demand for helium is rising rapidly at the same time concerns over uncertain supply and pricing are growing,” says Richard Dunn, Executive Director, Helium Developers Association of Canada. “Helium is critical to essential medical services like MRIs. Concerns are rising over everything from the repatriated North American semiconductor chip manufacturing sector’s ability to support critical defense and electric vehicle production to restrictions on scientific research conducted by Canadian universities. This is a challenge and an opportunity that Canada is well-positioned to address.”

Helium, a non-combustible gas, is one of 31 federally-designated Canadian critical minerals and a critical enabler for development and application of high-tech and clean technologies that will be essential to Canada’s lower carbon future.  It plays a key and irreplaceable role in medical applications such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers as well as semi-conductor and fibre optic manufacturing, small modular reactors, quantum computing, industrial welding and manufacturing, leak detection (including leak detection of EV batteries), lifting applications and military and space applications, plus new and emerging areas such as heat pumps.

Concerns over uncertain supply have prompted urgent calls from the medical and scientific communities, including the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT), Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) and Canadian Helium Users Group (CHUG) for the establishment of a secure and sustainable national helium supply chain.

“Helium supply issues have been a frequent threat to the medical, research, and industrial fields that depend on a consistent supply. It is imperative for the federal, provincial governments, regulators and industry to work together and prioritize establishing a sustainable and secure Canadian helium supply,” says Megan Brydon, President, CAMRT.

Canada’s helium resources are estimated to be the fifth largest in the world but account for less than 2% of global helium production. The majority of the world’s helium is produced in the U.S. and unstable political environments such as Russia, Qatar and Algeria. In the U.S. demand is rapidly growing and supply is declining. Much of the world’s increased supply of helium was forecast to come from Russia, however, Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine exposed the fragility of the supply chain and forced supply rationing.

Much of Canada’s helium resources are located in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan. Using well-established responsible development practices, helium is co-produced with nitrogen, unlike alongside the production of natural gas or liquefied natural gas (LNG) elsewhere in the world. 

 “Because our helium is co-produced with nitrogen it is recognized for being the most sustainably produced in the world and that puts Canada in a unique position to provide a long-term helium supply as the world transitions away from hydrocarbons,” says Chris Bakker, co-chair, Helium Developers Association of Canada. “Developing a helium industry represents a new, important and essential growth opportunity for Canada.”

The development of a helium industry in Canada aligns with the federal government and the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments’ strategic priorities, adds Ed Bereznicki, also co-chair of the association.

“We are engaging with the federal and provincial governments to get the right policies and programs in place. With those, Canada can become self-sufficient in the foreseeable future and a trusted supplier to other countries, including the U.S. Saskatchewan alone estimates its helium growth plan, which targets producing 10% of the world’s helium by 2030, will support thousands of jobs and generate annual exports worth as much as $500-million. The opportunity for Alberta was featured prominently in recent ministerial mandate letters and is equally significant,” says Bereznicki. “The increased activity from establishing this industry will provide short and long-term economic benefits to rural and Indigenous communities and can leverage the skills of oil and gas workers developed over a century.”

“The Helium Developers Association of Canada will provide a foundation for the expansion of helium development in our province. We are excited to see ongoing diversification of our economy, particularly in such an important sector for Canada’s future,” says Brian Jean, Minister of Energy and Minerals of Alberta.

Founding member companies of the Helium Developers Association of Canada include: Avanti Helium Corp., First Helium Inc., Global Helium Corp., Royal Helium Ltd. and Thor Resources Inc.

Visit HeDAC at www.hedac.ca and follow us on LinkedIn, X and Facebook.

For more information contact:

Richard Dunn, Executive Director, Helium Developers Association of Canada

richard.dunn@hedac.ca 

403-512-6440

Global Helium Corporation drills first helium well in Alberta

Sept 21, 2023 Via Gasworld

Global Helium Corporation has drilled, logged, and cased its first potential helium well, located on the farm-in land block of Perpetual Energy within the Manyberries, Alberta helium trend.

With the drilling of the initial well, Global Helium has completed the first step in earning on the farm-in block of eight sections. Perpetual will retain a 25% working interest in the project and collect a 7% lessor royalty on the company’s 75% share.

The helium exploration and development company has the option to drill a second well to earn the additional nine sections, under the same terms as the initial well.

Earlier this year, Global Helium increased its landholdings in Southern Alberta by 10,880 acres to a total of 31,360 acres, all in the Manyberries helium trend.

Global Helium has partnered with Perpetual Energy and anticipates drilling at least two helium wells by the end of 2023 to earn the land.

The two companies will share seismic, geological expertise and industry knowledge while working together within the 576-section area of mutual interest.

Royal Helium gears up for production at Steveville helium processing facility

August 22, 2023 Via Gasworld

Royal Helium is one step closer to starting up its Steveville helium processing facility, having confirmed that all the component modules are now on site and both the 12-12 and 10-22 helium wells are tied in.

The mechanical, electrical and instrumentation contractors have been on site since mid-June installing and tying in components as they arrived. With the final two components arriving last week, Royal Helium is entering the final assembly phase and preliminary commissioning.

It was in June (2023) that Royal Helium said that it had started shipping the initial modules of its Steveville helium processing facility to the site as it prepares for first production in the coming months.

Once operational, The Steveville plant will process 15,000,000 cubic feet/day of raw gas fed by the two 100% owned helium wells at Steveville, Alberta and produce 22,000 mcf of 99.999% helium per year.

Andrew Davidson, President and CEO of Royal Helium, said he is pleased with the process that brings the company one step closer to being the first Canadian public helium producer.

He continued, “Having the full facility onsite is a major milestone and is a definitive message to all stakeholders and shareholders that this new industry in the Brooks region is now here and is only the beginning of Alberta’s helium future.”

“Plant operations personnel and services have been organised as we complete the final installation over the coming weeks, concurrent with commissioning, to be followed by full-scale production.”

The engineered life of the plant is 25 years, while both wells are expected to remain on stream for a minimum of nine years. The plant will also produce enough fuel gas to power the plant and up to 22,000,000 pounds of commercial CO2.

Royal Helium has selected Vise Energy Services as the lead mechanical contractor and Medallion Energy Services as lead electrical and instrumentation contractor.

https://www.gasworld.com/story/royal-helium-gears-up-for-production-at-steveville-helium-processing-facility/2126689.article/?origin=mobileSearch

Avanti Helium signs midstream agreement with IACX

July 27, 2023 Via Gasworld

Avanti Helium has signed a binding midstream agreement with IACX Resources Montana, a subsidiary of IAXC Energy, to build, finance, and operate a helium recovery plant to process raw gas from Avanti’s Sweetgrass helium pool.

The helium exploration, development, and production company today (27th July) said it hopes that initial components for the plant will be delivered to the site in Q4 2023, with initial production expected in Q1 2024.

Once operational, the plant is expected to initially process 10 million cubic feet of raw gas a day, with an option to increase production to 15 million cubic feet a day.

Chris Bakker, CEO of Avanti Helium, said that having IACX construct and operate the plant de-risks execution for Avanti.

He added, “We are also pleased to have arrived at fee terms that drastically reduce our need for capital. I would like to thank the entire Avanti team for the huge amount of work done to bring the Company to this tremendously positive turning point.”

Developing the helium recovery plant independently posed a major capex and expertise requirement for Avanti, but through the IACX transaction, and the liquification tolling agreement, the company will have access to the required infrastructure to achieve cashflow in an attractive commercial environment.

Under the terms of the agreement, Avanti will pay a scheduled monthly fee for seven years, with an option to renew annually for the life of the pools.

IACX will build, finance, install, and operate the helium recovery plant on site near the Sweetgrass helium pool. Avanti Helium will be required to complete minor associated infrastructure work to commence production of the plant.

Just last month (June 2023), IACX signed a similar agreement with Blue Star Helium, to supply and operate the company’s recovery plants at its maiden helium development, Voyager.

https://www.gasworld.com/story/avanti-helium-signs-midstream-agreement-with-iacx/2125234.article/?origin=mobileSearch

Helium for high tech a growing Canadian opportunity

June 15, 2021 Via Canadian Energy Centre

It may be the second-lightest element in the universe, but helium is heavy with potential in Canada. Global demand for helium is outpacing supply, and Canada has not only significant resources but also the expertise required to get in on the game.

“Helium is explored for, drilled, and extracted using the same techniques as what is employed in the oil and gas business,” says Phil Skolnick, managing director of equity research with Eight Capital.

Canada has the world’s fifth largest resources of virtually untapped helium, which is increasingly used in high-tech applications around the globe. The price of helium has increased by more than 160 per cent since 2017 as demand has grown and is expected to continue rising.

Helium is high tech

“People think of helium in relation to balloons and blimps. They are surprised to learn that we need it to build computer chips and advanced medical imaging equipment, run medical breathing devices and cool down small-scale nuclear reactors, amongst many other applications, particularly in the high-tech space,” Skolnick said.

“Any nation that is highly dependent on advancing technology or has an interest in joining the space race or employing nuclear energy will be major consumers of helium going forward.”

That includes growth in high tech areas like the manufacturing of fibre optic cables and semi-conductors, says Chris Bakker, CEO of Calgary-based Avanti Energy.

“The single biggest [helium] buyer right now is NASA, which uses it to purge their rockets. Companies like Netflix and Amazon web services use helium-filled hard drives, giving them 50 per cent more storage and 23 per cent lower operating costs for power. For car manufacture Tesla, helium plays a key part in leak detection for their lithium batteries,” Bakker said.

“It has so many vital uses and is essential for the growth of high tech; there really is nothing like it in the world.”

Avanti was formed by ex-Encana workers in 2019 after the company downsized due to oil and natural gas price declines. Many of the group were key players in the discovery of the B.C./Alberta Montney play, one of the premiere natural gas formations in North America.

“We realized that helium extraction involves the same skill sets as drilling for oil and gas, so it was a great opportunity to apply our experience and abilities,” said Bakker.

Avanti is in the exploration stage, drilling and testing wells and negotiating with large gas marketers. The company has established roughly 75,000 acres of land holdings in Alberta and Montana.

Tapping into helium

Helium has historically been recovered as a byproduct of natural gas, but the value of helium has increased so much that now companies in Canada are targeting the element on its own, according to GLJ Petroleum Consultants.

As a prime example, this June Calgary-based North American Helium opened the largest helium production facility in Canada, located in southwest Saskatchewan. The $32-million project is expected to produce more than 50 million cubic feet per year of purified helium.

Global demand is now over 6 billion cubic feet per day and expected to grow by 6.5 per cent per year through 2025, Skolnick said.

Tapping into helium is no small feat. A byproduct of the natural decay of uranium and thorium, helium is found deep in the Earth’s core. This extremely small and light element immediately rises and follows natural pathways until it is trapped and sealed in different locations underground.

“We are in the business of finding these reservoirs of helium and drilling into them like we did for natural gas,” said Bakker.

“It feels like a frontier version of oil and gas because it’s such a new sector and there isn’t much data available on where to drill. For our team, these are exciting times as we – literally and figuratively – break new ground every day. Each time we go to work we are leaving our own mark on history.”

https://www.canadianenergycentre.ca/helium-for-high-tech-a-growing-canadian-opportunity/